Greg found this cute little guy on our driveway today.
Isn’t he cute? He looked like a colorful mini triceratops bug. He bumbled along at our feet, heading straight to the edge of our back porch–a huge cliff for him. I put my paper out to catch him, and he promptly landed upside down on it, legs flailing. My kids noticed his obvious defenses: armor and a huge horn. The only problem is that his horn was so big and curved, as my son pointed out, that he’d have to tuck his head all the way in for it to do any good against an enemy. He did brandish it at me in a non-menacing way when I tried to redirect him with my paper away from the porch cliff.
Not only did he have cute clumsy ways, but my pictures don’t truly capture how beautiful his colors were. His metallic reds, greens, and golds gleamed in the light, and his feelers ended in tiny, delicate gold circles. I know it was just a trick of coloring, but he even looked like he had a large smile on his face.
My kids were quite taken with him, even wanting him for a pet. They had me look up what kind of bug he was. They wanted to find out what he liked to eat so they could take care of him. Well, after a little searching, it turns out he’s a dung beetle. So that’s what he eats. The kids didn’t ask whether they could have him for a pet anymore once they learned what dung is. They were too busy laughing, anyway.
I know that dung beetles hold an important position, that they contribute greatly to the overall hygiene of this planet. However, the difference between the outward appearance of this beautiful beetle and his actual identity was striking and had us all laughing.
This little bug started me thinking about two verses. The first is from when Samuel was trying to discern who would be the next king of Israel after Saul. He was struck by the outward features of the first son of Jesse, a tall handsome guy. But God said to him, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (I Sam. 16:7).
The next is about another man with a less than handsome appearance: “He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him” (Isa. 53:2). The first was a man God had rejected; the second a man other men rejected, but who was the Chosen One–Jesus Christ Himself.
When I read this, I wonder if I had actually met Christ while He lived on this earth, would I have ignored Him, too? How many of us have made split decisions on people about whom we know little to nothing simply based on appearance?
Just a week or two ago, I observed a fellow teacher’s class. Before I walked in, I found myself intimidated by the male students. They seemed tough at first, a little on the dangerous side. After an hour in the class, however, it was easy to see that these students were not that way at all. They were friendly, hard-working men who cared about their families and respected their teacher. They were among the tribe of men I have since known to carry a heavy white board down a long hallway out of their way just to be kind to a stranger who needs a little extra help. I’m reminded of a movie I recently watched called McFarland USA, in which the main character learns the same lesson.
May God uncover our eyes to see people for who they truly are, not just for what we can see on the outside. May we not be so quick to establish an opinion about another person before getting to know the person on a deeper level. May we stop getting caught up by the beauty of dung beetles and focus on the heart.